Basic Macaron Recipe (gluten free, dairy free)
Total time: Do you really want to know?
There are a lot of different recipes for macarons out there, but this is the one that I found works for me. Before you start, I would really recommend looking up some tutorials so you know what everything is supposed to look along the way. Food Nouveau has one here that is incredibly helpful with extensive tips and a great troubleshooting guide. The Cupcake Project has another one with some great pictures here.
You will need:
2 egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup ground almonds
¼ cup fine granulated sugar
Blender or food processor
Sifter or fine sieve
3 or more baking sheets
Non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mats
A medium stainless steel bowl
Pastry bag tip (note: a tip with a ½ inch opening is recommended. The one I have is a bit smaller, so I pipe them in spirals and they come out more or less the same, but it takes longer)
The day before: Separate the eggs and put the egg whites in an air-tight container. Leave the egg whites in the fridge overnight.
Three hours before: Take the egg whites out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature slowly. Put the stainless steel bowl into the fridge. (Yes, really)
Okay, ready? Let’s go:
1. Put the almonds and powdered sugar into the blender and grind together for a few seconds. If you are adding a dry flavoring, add this now. Sift the powder into a bowl and set aside.
2. Take the bowl out of the fridge and give it a good wipe with a kitchen towel to be sure it is completely dry before you start. Put the egg whites into the bowl and beat them on medium speed with the hand mixer. When they get foamy and start to really expand, add the granulated sugar a little bit at a time and continue to beat all of the sugar has dissolved. Lower the speed of the mixer and continue to beat the eggs until stiff peaks are left when you pull the mixer out. (Not just snow drifts, think Alps.) When your eggs are ready, they will be thick enough that you can hold the bowl upside down without them falling out. If you tilt the bowl and they’re still sliding, beat them on low for another minute and try again. You might need to do this several times before they’re ready, but be patient! If your eggs aren’t right, the macarons won’t turn out.
Note: If the bowl is very cold and the eggs have been aged long enough, this won’t take very long. If they haven’t, it’ll take forever. I’ve had this take anywhere from 4 - 20 minutes. Big difference!
3. Add any liquid flavors or food coloring at this point by folding it into the eggs with a rubber spatula.
4. Carefully fold in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time with a rubber spatula. Don’t mix them or stir vigorously, you don’t want to wreck the eggs! When it’s done, the mixture will be thick, airy, and should fall off of the spatula in slow, wide ribbons.
5. Pour the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe rounds onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper or a baking mat. Try to make them all the same size as much as you can, leaving an inch between them. These will cover at two or three baking sheets, depending on the size and spacing.
6. Smack the baking sheets on your counter one at a time. Lift them a few inches above the counter and just drop them. (This makes a pretty loud noise, so if you live with other people, give them some warning!) Do this a few times for each tray.
7. Let them sit until the surface starts to dry. This can take anywhere from 20 - 40 minutes, so be patient! (Now is a good time to make the filling if you’re making it yourself.) You’ll know they’re ready when you touch them and nothing sticks to your finger. When they feel like they’re there, preheat your oven to 285F.
8. Put the baking tray on top of another empty baking tray in the center of your oven. Bake the macarons for 12 minutes with the door closed before checking on them. If they’re still really sticking, put them back into the oven for another 2-3 minutes.
9. Take the baking paper or mat off of the baking trays and leave them to cool completely on the counter (or cooling racks, if using). This only takes a couple of minutes. The macarons should pop off of the paper pretty easily, but if they stick, you can slide a thin knife between the shell and the paper to remove them.
Match shells of similar size and stick them together with a little bit of filling. You can use a lot of different things — icing, butter cream, ganache, Nutella, jam, fudge, caramel, etc — so experiment with what you have and know that your whole batch doesn’t have to be the same. Try a few things out!
Put the finished macarons in an air-tight container in the fridge and let them sit overnight before you eat them. The flavor and texture improves overnight, so they will be at their best tomorrow.
And the whole process only takes three days…
This basic recipe can be modified to make pretty much any flavor you can think of. I’m trying to make a new one every week, so I’ll start posting these here with photos and short descriptions if you want to make them at home. This week, I made some that I’m calling Irish Coffee.
Irish Coffee Macarons (gluten free, dairy free)
For the shells:
⅔ cup ground almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup fine granulated sugar
2 egg whites (aged, room temperature)
1 generous tablespoon instant coffee crystals, ground into a fine powder
1 - 2 tsp your favorite ground coffee, for dusting
Follow the instructions for the basic macarons, adding the coffee powder to the powdered sugar & almond mixture and sifting it all together. This will color the macarons a medium honey-brown and you won’t need any food coloring. Fold into egg whites as usual, pipe onto your lined baking trays, and sprinkle a little ground coffee over the tops of the macarons while you’re waiting for them to set. You can use any ground coffee that you like and use more or less to taste. Bake 12 -15 minutes, remove from the oven, and let cool completely.
Jameson Irish Whiskey Cream (gluten free, vegan)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbs Earth Balance or other good quality butter substitute
7 tbs Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 tbs unsweetened, unflavored soy milk (I used Silk Organic Unsweetened, but any will do. Almond milk would also work if you prefer)
1. Beat sugar and butter together in a bowl. With this kind of butter, it will tend to look crumbly — this is totally fine. Add the soy milk and the whiskey and it will all come together nicely.
This icing is a little bit on the thin side, so you will need to refrigerate it before assembling the macarons if it’s out too long. Alternatively, you can add a bit more sugar to thicken it up. Feel free to tweak the quantities to suit your tastes — I like it like this because it’s not too sweet and there’s just enough whiskey to make it burn a little bit. What’s the point of Irish Coffee macarons if you can’t taste the Jameson?